Michael Pollan‘s now-famous phrase echoes in the ears of everyone who is on a quest to eat healthier.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
That may be the answer to the often confusing question — what is a healthy diet? It sounds easy enough at first glance, but many people probably need a little more clarification. I had a conversation with someone the other day who repeated Pollan’s phrase with a puzzled look on his face. “Ok…so…what should I eat?”
Let’s break it down.
Eat food: this means to eat real food. Eating real food means whole, natural food as it comes from the earth, without any processing or added chemicals. Can you picture the food in nature? If yes, it’s probably a real food. If you can’t picture it in nature (Oreos, Diet Coke), or if it has ingredients that you can’t pronounce or picture in nature, it probably isn’t food.
Not too much: “Not too much” might sound like quite the ambiguous phrase – and it’s going to be different for everyone. So what does it mean for you? Well, basically, don’t stuff yourself. Choose quality over quantity – eat high quality, nourishing foods. When your body is properly nourished, you’ll find you won’t need as much food to feel satisfied, and you’ll stay full longer. When you eat, get to about 80% full – enough to be satisfied, but not so much that your stomach hurts. Chew your food properly (until it’s liquid) and you’ll notice a shift. I also love the phrase “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.”
Mostly plants: Does this phrase leave you thinking of a rabbit gnawing on leaves? Well, have no fear – eating a highly plant-based diet can be fun, satisfying and totally delicious. What this means is to have a high amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains in your diet. You can eat other things too, but just have them in smaller amounts – don’t make them the main event. And hey, you don’t have to eat like a rabbit, but don’t skimp on the leafy greens either!
So, to recap — a healthy diet doesn’t have to be rocket science, calorie counting or crazy restrictions. Eat mostly real foods that you recognize from nature, don’t stuff yourself, and get lots of high-quality plants into that beautiful body of yours. And remember to keep it fun, ENJOY food, and enjoy life.